Manchester United’s academy director Brian McClair has suggested that Tom Cleverley’s Old Trafford career might not be over.
The midfielder completed a season-long loan move to Aston Villa at the transfer deadline after being deemed expandable under new manager Louis van Gaal, with a view to a £7.5 million permanent switch ahead of his United contract expiring next summer.
A highly-regard prospect coming up through the youth ranks, the 25-year-old made 79 appearances for the club following his first-team debut in August 2011, but a lacklustre 2013-14 campaign saw his once-flourishing reputation take a serious hit.
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Often singled out for criticism during last season’s disappointing seventh-place Premier League finish, the England international admitted after completing his move to Villa Park that his career with his childhood club was likely over, but McClair insists there could still be a way back for his former trainee given his perseverance.
‘[Tom] came from Bradford when he was 12. At 16 we didn't offer him a scholarship. He stayed at school and he worked as hard he possibly could, while still at school and at the end of that two-year period, because he had developed more physically, he had a professional contract,’ he told ESPN FC.
‘He's gone on from that to represent his country and to play many games in the Premier League. You don't know what's going to happen because he's only on loan at Villa. I still think he's a good player.’
Cleverley has been an ever-present for Villa since completing his loan switch, forming an all-English midfield trio along with Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph, while earning the plaudits of his new boss Paul Lambert.